Tim Bird, who runs the five-strong Cheshire Cat Pub Company and is shortlisted for a 2016 Publican Award, said, come the new year, he would no longer tolerate increases from brewers and urged others to “name and shame” those who raise prices.
Rising prices 'the norm'
“If, next year, brewers put their prices up — outside a duty increase — then where I can, I will stop selling those brands and move to more competitive alternatives — and I would ask other businesses to do the same. I’m unable to do this in some of my pubs because of the tie, but in our freehold pubs there is a chance to change beer suppliers,” he said.
“These annual increases are becoming almost the norm. Every year, there seems to be a reason for not holding prices or dropping them. The price of raw materials needed to make beer is coming down and fuel remains very competitive.”
He added: “We use microbrewers alongside the big name brands in all our pubs, and they haven’t put their prices up for more
than two years — although they haven’t dropped them either, so they too could help pubs more.”
Most of the leading brewers upped their prices at the start of the year, citing upward pressure on the cost of raw materials, manufacturing and distribution.
Customers questioning prices
Bird said savvy customers were now questioning rising beer prices after hearing about successive cuts in duty.
However, Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) managing director Mike Benner stressed that a number of factors influenced beer prices and highlighted the importance of duty cuts.
“Increases in beer prices generally have reduced over the last couple of years thanks to three consecutive duty cuts.
“It is important that we all work together to secure further cuts to continue that trend and support pubs and craft brewers alike.”